Michael Howard Yardy
November 27, 1980, Pembury, Kent
Left hand bat
Slow left arm orthodox
William Parker School, Hastings
Michael Yardy's England career effectively ended when he flew home from Colombo with clinical depression three days before the quarterfinal of the 2011 World Cup. Yardy, whose worth in the side had been under scrutiny, had combated the illness for much of his career and as the cricket community rallied around him there was general pleasure when he returned to county cricket with Sussex in the early part of the 2011 summer. By the time he was awarded a benefit in 2014, he had spent 15 years at the county, winning seven trophies, including three Championships, and had turned himself in that time from a humdrum county professional by no means certain to make the grade to a highly-respected figure.
His farewell season in 2015 coincided with a shock Sussex relegation from Division One of the Champion ship, but as he battled gamely - and ultimately in vain - to keep his side up, the admiration of supporters and opposition was apparent. There was a standing ovation at Hove for a century against the chamnpions Yorkshire, a farewell hundred at Hove against Somerset, and handshakes all round when he resisted again against Yorkshire at Headingley in the final match of the season. His last over in white-ball cricket - in the NatWest Blast quarter-final against Northants at Hove - went less well as David Willey struck 34 off one over and only the fact that one ball fell a yard short at midwicket stopped Yardy conceding six sixes in an over.
Yardy first suffered from depression when his professional satisfaction was at its peak, He had been part of the England squad that won the Twenty20 World Cup in the Caribbean in 2010 but later said: "'I wasn't enjoying life. Everything was a real struggle. I couldn't understand why I was in such a bad place because everything seemed to be going quite merrily from the outside. I was a World Cup winner, I was playing for a very successful England team and Sussex were playing really good Twenty20 cricket. Everything I had worked for in my professional life was going well and my family life was great and you are thinking, 'What are you doing? Snap out of it, this is ridiculous.'"
Yardy's illness first had a direct impact upon his career when he pulled out of England's last one-day international against Pakistan at the Rose Bowl in September 2010. At the end of a fractious series, with revelations about Pakistani spot-fixing in full swing, nobody outside the England set-up bothered to consider why Yardy's Sussex team-mate Luke Wright had been preferred. He confided in England's coach Andy Flower and sought professional help to alleviate the illness but, like Marcus Trescothick before him, found touring with England exacerbated the problem. He would lie awake until the early hours. In Colombo, his international career - 28 ODIs and 14 T20s - came to an abrupt halt. "I was out of my comfort zone," he said. "By the last training session I was literally like a zombie.'
He came back too soon and had to leave the pitch midway through a game against Middlesex at Hove, struck by a sense that he was in 'danger' on the field. But he rallied again, proving himself once more to be a dedicated and selfless captain. He relinquished the Sussex captaincy in two formats of the game in July 2013 but he continued to skipper the side in Friends Life t20, leading Sussex to their second finals day in four seasons and was also named the 1st XI Fielder of the Year, with his 34 catches across all formats rivalling numbers taken by wicketkeepers around the county circuit. He could anticipate an enthusiastically-supported benefit in 2014 after 15 years with the county. In that time he has been the bedrock of the county during the most successful period in their history during which they have won seven trophies including three County Championships.
Yardy was never the most elegant player, with bat or ball, but he could be mightily effective. A compact (stodgy in his early days) left-hander, he cemented his place by recording his maiden first-class century in defeat against Surrey, in the final match of the 2004 season. He began 2005 in identical fashion, with another hundred against Surrey, to trigger a run of form that carried him to the top of the domestic batting charts.
His zenith arrived against the Bangladeshis at Hove, where he scored 257 - the highest score by a Sussex batsman against a touring team, beating George Cox jr's 234 against the 1946 Indians - and followed up with a career-best 5 for 83 with his flat, left-arm spin, having started life as a medium-pacer. That was exactly double his previous tally of first-class wickets. It proved to be an effective career move.
His good form continued throughout the 2005 season leading to selection for the England A tour of West Indies, and ultimately a chance to push for a World Cup place when he was picked for the Champions Trophy. Though his bowling impressed, England's strange insistence that he bat at No. 4 meant that the overall image suffered, and he was quietly jettisoned. He was groomed as Chris Adams' success at Hove and took the reins in 2009, leading the county to two one-day trophies - the Twenty20 Cup and Pro40 - but also presided over Championship relegation.
His steely approach in one-day cricket, however, kept the England selectors interested and when Flower recognised the need for the limited-overs side to find a left-arm spinning allrounder Yardy was recalled for the 2010 World Twenty20. Darting the ball in, he formed a potent spin partnership with Graeme Swann that helped England achieve their first ever success in a global ICC event. That secured him a regular place during the 2010 season and then a berth at the World Cup where his problems were to mount once more.
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